San Antonio Spurs: It’s Time to Join the NBA Arms Race
By Dylan Carter
While the NBA enters an Arms Race for elite talent, the San Antonio Spurs have remained quiet. Is the front office doing enough to compete with the rest of the league?
The San Antonio Spurs have built a legacy of success through loyalty, unselfishness, and development over the past 20 years. This model has led them to five titles and 20 consecutive playoff appearances.
The team’s faith in its process is what makes the Spurs such a solid organization. With that being said, the NBA is rapidly changing. Former-MVP Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 offseason ushered in a new era of basketball: the Superteam Era.
This move created a standard for winning by building such an insurmountable juggernaut of a team. This has led to one of the most exciting and tantalizing offseasons to date, and with free agency just around the corner, the Spurs mustn’t wait to make moves.
With Chris Paul heading to the Spurs’ rival Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade, the ball has come to San Antonio’s court. While their team mentality and altruistic gameplan should remain the same, the Spurs should look to add more superstar talent.
Upgrading Current Talent
Kawhi Leonard is an obvious superstar. After placing top-three in MVP voting for the second consecutive year, there’s no doubt that Leonard is a cornerstone piece for the team heading forward.
However, there’s lots of room to improve around Leonard.
The acquisition of Lamarcus Aldridge in the Summer of 2015 was a monumental moment for the San Antonio front office. Their craftiness allowed them to create cap space and sign a seemingly perennial all-star.
Unfortunately, the Lamarcus Aldridge of the past has disappeared behind Leonard’s stardom. While his 17 points and seven rebounds per game are notable, his explosiveness and competitiveness have become slim.
In lieu of the league’s Arms Race for Talent, it seems to be time to part ways with Aldridge. His notoriety alone will generate a sizeable return.
Talented players such as Paul George, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan remain on the trade block approaching free agency. Now is the perfect time for Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford to strike.
Veteran Pau Gasol will likely resign and Manu Ginobili, who’s mulling retirement, is coming off of a $14 million contract. The masterminds in San Antonio’s front office may be able to find cap space in unexpected places.
Due to their booming impacts, the front office should retain key role players such as Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon. If this means dumping the salaries of Aldridge and veteran shooter Danny Green then sobeit.
Chris Paul’s decision to join the Houston Rockets eliminates one of San Antonio’s biggest free agency targets. While this may seem like a blow, it also opens up a realm of opportunity this summer.
The free agent pool will contain talent of an immense caliber heading toward July 1st. This list is including but not limited to: Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry and George Hill.
George Hill, Spurs Have Mutual Interest: https://t.co/KQtqRgrf9H pic.twitter.com/mAn80E8cLS
— RealGM (@RealGM) June 22, 2017
Each of these players will bring All-Star caliber talent to their prospective teams. While some players may not fit in the Spurs’ system, others could potentially excel.
Considering the money offered by Utah and the glamor offered by Boston, Gordon Hayward may be a stretch. The 27-year old wing is coming off of an All-Star appearance and the highest scoring season thus far. His scoring ability, defensive prowess, and basketball IQ have made him one of the most sought after players this summer.
The Spurs winning culture and the opportunity to compete will always draw interest from free agents. As difficult as it may be to pull off, the front office should try to land a meeting with Hayward.
The same goes for veteran big man Paul Millsap. The four-time All-Star brings offensive versatility and defensive grit that would fit greatly in San Antonio.
Paul Millsap is reportedly on Spurs', Rockets' and Nuggets radar. He could get a 4yr, $149M max deal #NBA pic.twitter.com/FMkwphHT1a
— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) June 29, 2017
While reports have indicated that he’s looking for a max deal, San Antonio should still try to pitch a championship run to the seasoned veteran.
Next: Spurs: Non-Chris Paul Point Guard Options in Free Agency
With the structure of the NBA rapidly changing around San Antonio, it’s time to adapt. Coach Popovich’s ability to adjust with the league’s climate is uncanny and is a huge reason why the Spurs have attained such sustained success.
One can only conclude that changes will be made to continue their legacy.